About this blog
If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday. ~Pearl Buck
Entries in this blog
- Romance wa Tsurugi no Kagayaki - The Last Crusader- and Tokyo Twilight Busters ~Kindan no Ikenie Teito Jigokuhen~ are masterpieces for me, but only True Love ~Jun'ai Monogatari~ is a traditional visual novel and it's the most accessible to general public.
First, some statistics. Here's the chart of total number of VNs, number of listed VNs in this blog and number of blocked VNs for the years 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994. Number won't change significantly since for the moment these are all the VNs that vndb.org has for the noted periods.
As you remember, year 1992 was to my liking since, due to harsh censorship, works were more story-oriented. And with almost the same number of total VNs compared to 1991, in 1992 there were much more works that made it in the list and even smaller number of blocked ones.
The total number of works increased further by 28%, but the correlation of quality story oriented works improved slightly in comparison to 1993.
So let's see what year 1994 brought:
- Dating SIMs showed up and pushed Raising SIMs back
- RPG weren't too numerous but there are surprisingly many very high quality RPGs in 1994
- There's the first Otome game Angelique
- There's the first Yaoi reference in Uchuu Kaitou Funny Bee
- Gao Gao 3 presented a new model of game - party interaction based.
Let's count the masterpiece level games of 1994:
- 1. AmbivalenZ -Niritsu Haihan- AmbivalenZ
- 2. Crystal Rinal - Ouma No Meikyuu -
- 3. DESIRE - Haitoku no Rasen
- 4. Dragon Knight 4
- 5. Gao Gao! 3rd ~Wild Force~
- 6. Fuzoroi no Lemon
- 7. Mirage 2 - Torry x Neat x Roan no Daibouken
- 8. Nooch 3 Saigo no Seisen
- 9. Policenauts
- 10. Team Innocent: The Point of No Return
- 11. Tokimeki Memorial
- 12. Toushin Toshi II
- 13. Urusei Yatsura: Dear My Friends
- 14. Wedding Errantry -Gyakutama Ou-
- 15. Welcome to the Cinemahouse
- 16. Zatsuon Ryouiki
And five of those 15 are RPGs, pretty insane. I guess there was no competition from the beginning - I'd put DESIRE pretty much above any game put beside. So DESIRE is the game of the year 1994.
Foreword: This is Keno-san's scenario. He did not have much experience when we was thrown to produce scenario of the game that we know as Love Potion in two months time. Critics buried the game and that's why there was much more care in producing next game scenario - that was DESIRE, the game that I can't praise enough. The next year Keno wrote scenario for EVE burst error and on the wave of popularity moved to legendary Elf company where he kept working on EVE franchise and created another masterpiece YU-NO and then left for Abel company. He created a lot of wonderful scenarios after that but we're interested in Xenon ~Mugen no Shitai~ scenario. It was developed after DESIRE but prior to EVE. So it was the golden age for Keno and he was experimenting a lot, trying to further develop the already complex DESIRE structure. This resulted in Xenon -Phantom Limbs-.
Title: Xenon ~Mugen no Shitai~
Developer: C's Ware
Synopsis: Kōji, a Japanese high school student, experiences strange, recurrent life-like dreams. He finds himself in a space station inhabited by beautiful young women. As he tries to explore the dream realm he wakes up. His teacher, intrigued by his account of the bizarre adventure, urges him to travel back to the space station in his dream and report his discoveries to her. Eventually Kōji realizes that his dream and reality are tightly connected, and finds himself compelled to avert a grave danger.
Structure: Three routes with 3rd route to have four branches for different heroines, then there is an extra small kinetic route or something like that.
Length: Close to 10 hours, probably a bit less.
Game type: Space mindfuck mystery
Difficulty: Moderate. Flags are obscure so best to use guide.
Character Design rating: 7/10
Protagonist rating: 7/10
Story rating: 10/10
Game quality: 7/10
Overall rating: 8/10
Rating comments: Game is quite difficult to evaluate since there are two worlds with own sets of characters and there are even two protagonists (actually, even three) of varying charm. Not all the characters are cute, some look good only at CG. Game has great text but is lacking in some fields.
Protagonist: Quite and ordinary japanese student on one hand and much cooler The Greatest and Toughest Space Pirate, Genius and Universe Champion on the other hand. I liked the latter much more!
Megumi - real world girl, your lover and her papa is medical center sponsor
Sayaka - real world government researcher
Ryouko-sensei - real world psychiatrist
Mai - real world Ryouko-sensei sister, participates in experiments as catalyst
Ranfa - space ship mechanic
Fal - space ship researcher
Tracy - space ship captain assistant
Bianca - space ship sleeping beauty in cryogenic chamber
It's not easy to tell this game's story without spoilers. And this game's charm is only due to this mindfuck state of mind in projects constantly. If I tell the contents of 3rd route, game will be stripped of half of its charm. So I'll only roughly retell first route. Game introduction shows Kouji being taken out of hypnosis state by psychiatrist Ryouko-sensei. And this scene is repeated like 10 times throughout the whole game and it's great for the atmosphere - sometimes it's real awakening, sometimes it's just a dream. After introduction we find ourselves in some hospital chamber, bump in some weird looking (some exposing uniform) girl then discover naked girl wired to some cryogenic coffin.
After that Kouji wakes up in the real world (I'll call it real for now although it's not that simple). He's questioned by Ryouko-sensei about what he remembered from the dream. Outside of the room he is greeted by Megumi, who claims to be his girlfriend and lover. There is also some strict government official lady Sayaka who does not let us go into computer room. And finally there is Mai girl who is very worried about Kouji condition. And from there it goes chaotic. This real world is constantly shifting with the dream world where there are four different space ship crew girls await - mechanic Ranfa, researcher Fal, captain assistant Tracy and sleeping beauty Bianca in cryogenic room (actually, it's the different sleeping girl, first one in the dream was actually Fal).
So Kouji gets thrown from one world to another, sometimes without warning - we share consciousness and even items while there, so basically we've found some media disk in one world and could find the device to play it only in another world. Furthermore, we hear voice of some man from time to time. In real world we try to know more about the hypnosis treatment we undergo and to get to the computer room. In the dream world there is even more action - we investigate the sleeping beauties, try to find out about our identity and once even blow the ship.
As for identity - that's another interesting story. Some ancient ruins were found on some planet and first research team was sent to investigate the ruins. Noone survived. Second research team was sent to investigate the fate of the first research team and.... noone survived, except Kouji. So everyone urges us to remember anything but in vain. Then there is the sleeping beauty Bianca who eventually wakes up and blames Kouji of killing the whole first and second research teams. Then there are reports that actually Kouji was not listed neither in 1st, nor in 2nd research team... So the main question of the game is WHAT am I? That's just an amazing start, but actually game does not live up to this fantastic start to the end.
First chapter ends when Megumi gets kidnapped and as we rush to rescue her we get caught by Ryouko-sensei and get another charge from the mind machine that burns 2000-30000 of brain fibers in Kouji's brain and in the dream world Kouji steals the shuttle and flies to the Eriteia planet with ancient ruins to meet with Ranfa who promises to give answers to all the questions - and we get first chapter end while man and woman promise each other to become new Adam and Eve while staying on some wasteland.
That is a fantastic first chapter. But then starts the second chapter and... Kouji just cries off the bat - I'm the Great Space Pirate, Genius and Champion of the Universe! So the beginning of the chapter feels like a comedy with most of the real world girls trying to calm him down and treat his craziness. But the sad part here that this is real space pirate who changed consciousness with Kouji and came 6000 years from the future. He's cool, reserved and he first persuades Rouko-sensei into being his slave, then with her hands does the same with Ryouko-sensei's sister Mami, then proposes to his girlfriend Megumi to become his wife, actually, slave wife! And together they manage to confront Sayaka successfully after some violent scene and burning 30k more of Kouji's brain vibers.
Third route finally gives some answers as we play as real-life Kouji on the space ship. Fourth route is just ero-bonus content, sadly. So what we have is awesome space mystery that gradually looses its mystery and turns into a set of ero-scenes.
Theme: The recurring theme of the game is that of the dream. What is reality? Is it possible to percieve what's real and what's not? Game tells us a definite - impossible to perceive. The Confucius symbol of butterfly in human's dream is used a lot. Mai directly asks Kouji to be a butterfly in her dream. Since dream is as important as reality it's best to live a full life and take full efforts even in dreams.
CG: There are very few event CG in this game and those few that exist are of bland palette.
Sound: Actually, it was to my liking. Especially the theme of Greatest Space Pirate was awesome. It's some heroic march so when it starts merrily, you always know that Kouji now has a different personality. And I totally adored the voicing of Rafna... she's the youngest character and her seiyu just did a miracle here with the special voice and intonations. And Rafna got the cutest character design and CGs on top of that.
Overall comments: Scenario is second to none and text is really good. Game mechanics are finally driven from commands selection to usual ADV type, so story can be enjoyed to a bigger extent. I can't recommend this game to everyone since it does not reach the level of other Mr. Keno's masterpieces. But I can totally recommend this game if you like the space mindfuck mystery setting or if like good writing. Personally, I adore Vladimir Nabokov's books. Of course he has well known masterpieces like "Lolita", but I can take any of his novels and open them at any part and just start reading - the text is so good, complex, multi-level and rich that I get great pleasure just from reading a couple of pages. The same goes to this work. The aftertaste might not be the best, but while you read there's much pleasure in the process.
There aren't masterpieces this month, but if it comes to the choice between eroge of the month File: Kokubou Soushou Jouhoukyoku Jouhou Rouei Taisakubu Josei Jinmonin provides the best characters depiction.
Gao Gao! 3rd ~Wild Force~ is the only masterpiece of the month.
There aren't masterpieces this month, but if it comes down to the impact Ai Shimai ~Futari no Kajitsu~ is the winner, but only its original version, not the dreadful remake.
Another bakage from Alice Soft. I've no idea how to write reviews of such games. Guess a structured review won't go since there's nothing to discuss - there's no serious story or theme or interesting characters or anything worthwhile. All it has is bakage action, ero CG and lowest quality "variety" humor of stupid illogical events, not even sensible one. So I guess I'll just stuff it with images with some comments.
There are four chapters. In first chapter Sati (red-haired wild one) gets a desire to achieve the famous resting pillow from a galaxy museum. She does not even care if it does not have such qualities. Because it has PINK BUNNIES on it!
In second chapter they see some cooking show on a TV and... on a whim go to participate in galaxy cooking competition! First they kick all the opponents asses.
Then they compete with the remaining ones. They set on a fish-man dish. But they lack the main ingredient and you know how to catch man-fish? You don't? Then see for yourself.
But opponent is cheating! They're serving the dish on a naked girl's body! I would not show that CG since it's not entirely safe for work one, but just imagine that Sati is serving three small tarte pies that barely cover her shame parts.
In third chapter Sait and Shiori read at some super V-DOS net a thread about a dream stone and - what the heck - go to the other side of galaxy to get it.
In fourth chapter they are surrounded by space pirates ships and captured, but after intensive H-scene their robot friend Lambda throws them some activator and they transform in nearly invincible warriors. Only pirate boss could rival them, then they just did some merged transformation or something - go go transformers! THE END.
I guess the selling point of the game is lots of doors that they encounter in 1, 2 and 4 chapter and behind most of those doors are "humor" events, like this bloomers cult or this interrogation officer.
Or maybe someone finds this scene funny when yakuza space pirate infiltrates Funny Bee ship, but turns out to be a man of very gentle mind.
I was kind of worried by "yaoi" tag this game has and game indeed has yaoi encounter in one of the rooms. But I should give the game its due, the only right answer in the scene is "KIMOUCHI WARUI!!!" and kicking their... uhm... spines... yeah, spines sounds good.
So first of all I'm going to evaluate this came compared to Prostudent G. This game is so much better that I'm putting it 4.5/10 compared to 4/10 of Prostudent G. To tell the truth, this game is not bad if you don't mind bakage and can find some pleasure it this kind of event humor. It's fast-paced, with several types of mini-games, interactivity and great visuals. So compared to Prostudent G this game has the very same engine that only ports pc-98 version to Windows without enhancements. Finally in Funny Bee you don't get to rape the poor defeated side and it took only five years for Alice Soft to come to the idea that such outcome of battle is also possible! Secondly, protagonists here are much more likable. In Prostudent G we had a hooligan pervert with all the thoughts, all the speeches and all the jokes about lower body parts. In Funny Bee there are such stupid moments as well (like when you solve the safe puzzle on the belly of a giant racoon... the next move of Sati is doing him a fellatio just because it's safe and healthy - WTF?!) , but at least "humor" is events-based. The most significant difference is much faster pace and much cuter and funnier CG. And at least in Funny Bee there weren't mind-blowing events (warriors mode transformation looked quite organic for this setting) like summoning of giant mech or rebirths in various people that were in Prostudent G. As much as I would like to throw AmbivalenZ into the comparison, I can't stand rape after defeat there.
There aren't masterpieces this month, but I can't let an average bakage to be the winner, so I nominate Shinsetsu Ooedo Tantei Kamiya Ukyou as VN of August 1994.
There are no masterpieces this month, but story-wise Necronomicon is the closest thing to a masterpiece.
Tokimeki Memorial is the only masterpiece of the month.
Mirage 2 - Torry x Neat x Roan no Daibouken is the only masterpiece of the month.
Dragon Knight 4 is the only masterpiece of the month.
Year 1993 was... strange. Most of praised games of the year were blocked by me due to nukige nature of the games. Those games include Kawarazaki-ke no Ichizoku, Rance 4, Viper series, NOVA, Ayumi-chan Monogatari, Kindan no Ketsuzoku. And a lot of quality representatives that I don't even want to mention here are purest brainless nukige. It really looked to me as if the world got mad after the strict censorship of 1992. The number of VNs that made into my list slightly decreased from 4.08 in 1992 to 3.75 in 1993 due to increased nukige tendency.
The notable features of year 1993 included:
- Hard disks come as an early substitute for FDD, e.g. Rance 4 was released only for hard disks.
- Games featuring 2 or even 3 screen CG scrolling got frequent
- Multiple games heavily introduced animation to look like TV anime
- Several works included percentage of watched CG and it stimulated pursue of CG rather than developing story
- As games increase in volume they start to feel uncomfortable withing Command selection formula. Command selection is generally simplified even further to such extremes as three icons or 2-3 unique variants for each selection, sometimes merging with contemporary ADV system.
Let's try and count what masterpiece level games we ended up with in 1993.
- 1. Bunretsu Shugoshin Twinkle Star
- 2. Can Can Bunny Extra
- 3. Cosmology of Kyoto
- 4. Demon City
- 5. HHG Heart Heat Girls
- 6. Kawarazaki-ke no Ichizoku
- 7. Nova
- 8. Marine Philt
- 9. Ooedo Tantei Kamiya Ukyou Vol. 2
- 10. Prostudent G
- 11. Rance IV - Kyoudan no Isan -
- 12. Words Worth
- 13. Zoku Youjuu Senki -Suna no Mokushiroku-
So if we talk about which game had the biggest impact on industry - it would be Can Can Bunny Extra. From this work the Swatty goddess became a meme and the game is the closest thing to a contemporary high quality charage. But I just refuse to give this nampa game the credit of being the best VN of 1993.
3x3 Eyes ~Sanjiyan Henjou~ is a nice gore game just to my taste, but it has lots of shortcomings.
Horror games like Marine Philt are one-time games that are only good while playing.
Bunretsu Shugoshin Twinkle Star is mostly fun only for first two chapters.
Cosmology of Kyoto is a gem, but it's too different from anything else to participate in the general race.
Prostudent G is a bakage that I refuse to give credit.
Words Worth is a great game, but it would appeal only to a very small percentage of RPG fans.
H.H.G.: Heart Heat Girls is an amazing story but it's from a relatively unknown developer Cat's Pro and its production values are greatly lacking. Dark palette, average character design and CG quality just can't be the BEST game of 1993.
So why not Demon City? It's quite a borderline game, but so is year 1993. It's from the same Cocktail Soft company that made most acclaimed Can Can Bunny Extra the same year, so it's only fair. Demon City has fantastic production values, very unorthodox setting, cool original protagonist, great shifting story. It's persistent, fun and never boring. It made the biggest impression on me and that's what counts.
Foreword: I've played it in on a whim. Looked into synopsis and just could not believe that Cocktail Soft would do a full-scale fantasy eroge with rapist hero as protagonist. Fortunately, my belief in this old company prevailed.
Title: Demon City
Original Title: デーモンシティ
Developer: Cocktail Soft
Release Date: 1993-12-21
Summary: Vagnard kingdom practices "True religion" to live without restricting own desires, so its capital got known as "Demon City". "Blue moon" cult has established believers base of over 300 people and king sets us, sex fighter Yuaranas, on a mission to turn five gurus of the cult back into "True religion".
Game Type: Icon selection fantasy adventure.
Story Length: 7 hours.
Complete Story Clearing Difficulty: Moderately easy.
Comments of Difficulty: Story is one straight line, so I only had difficulties while searching for the town bard without a clue where to look for - first time i needed to look at the square fountain to find him... and the second time to talk to fountain... that was beyond logic. Another narrow point was the puzzle to set six books in the right order based on someone's words much earlier. Had to shamelessly google solution.
Character Design Rating: 7/10.
Story Rating: 8/10.
Protagonist Rating: 8/10
Game Quality: 8/10
Overall Rating: 8/10
Rating Comments: Surprise, surprise! I never expected that kind of quality from a pc-98 game. Great backgrounds, great CG, wonderful story and even sufficient music.
Structure: There are four main chapters, and also introduction and ending chapters that go do not fall in the chapters division.
Story: I don't really know how to write without spoilers. I read all amaterasu reviews, but they all look alike and can be applied almost to any game since they dont tackle story in any manner at all. I prefer to reveal the story, create tension and keep silent about resolution. So we get quest from the king and gather information about the cult's next meeting. We get to this forest meeting, but get uncovered. In a short assault scene we evade throwing knives attack and even manage wound one of hooded figures in the arm before fleeing.
In the daytime a local dancer girl shows up with an arm wound. From her we get to know the first crumbles of information on a 3000-year old mystery that surrounds the cult. Then we witness how local nun teaches city children of "love and purity" and thus uncover her involvement. Local blacksmith is brought a knife for repair and we identify the night assault throwing knife in this weapon. Knight captain girl admits it's her knife when we say we found it on the town square and thus uncover herself as cult follower. After that the story turns upside down with a lot of gore, treachery and total shift of objectives and enemies (even more than once). The ending is classy for a fantasy and satisfying.
Characters summary: Characters are multiple and very cute, but aren't particularly deep, so the only person I can really talk about is protagonist.
Protagonist: Absolutely fabulous. I don't think I've ever met such protagonist. He's been brought up as a sex fighter since childhood. As a result he's not interested in women at all. Majority of girl characters openly say let's make love before they say hello in this city of vice and every time protagonist ignores them. The most irritating is his 31st wife, but he ain't wasting forces on her, just handing her vibrator. Whenever it's possible with other girls, he also tries not to get involved much and actual coitus happened like only couple times. I just liked it that hero had a real aim to get princess as wife and rule kingdom. Very practical aim. For that he needed to become an aristocrat. And for that he undertook king's quest to convert cultists back to original religion. His actions were always weighted and logical, despite the seemingly stupid look on some CG. His actions can be considered rape, but not a single one was for pleasure. Each time there was a concrete aim driving him closer to fulfilling important political mission. So rape under necessity won't be considered an ordinary rape for me later on.
Sexual Content: First time you search for an astronomy book in the library and the stupid librarian girl placed all books by matched color and rally hindered your searches begging for sex, so after some 10 rounds of search had to give up - and the needed book was shortly found afterwards. Second time you need to go to the night meeting in the forest and your wife just would not let you go, so reluctantly had to please her and move out. The next time you gathered a lot of evidence stating that dancer girl was in the cult but she kept rejecting anything, so needed to use interrogation techniques on her. Same goes for the fourth time - you get substantial evidence of the church nun participation in the cult and some interrogation techniques (with the use of special aphrodisiac drink) had to be applied. Next time girl thief stole our family sword and did not want to give it back, only some stimulation changed her mind. And then the knight girl, but only after we've found satisfactory evidence of her participation. Finally there's the princess and this is the only time of emotional treatment since memories of their childhood acquaintance wake up. There are also couple scenes where H-scenes are witnessed.
Affection for the Characters: Low. The cutest characters show up only in several scenes and princess is not really lovable.
CG Score: 9/10. CG aren't bad. I just never expected this kind of quality. They are of low resolution, but so were the devices at that time. I'm a big fan of quality gore scenes since they support atmosphere of the work immensely and here there was a lot of impressive content.
Sound Score: At first two same melodies kept sounding getting irritating, but at final chapter there was an abundance of great music. Final impression is what only counts, right.
Addictiveness: Low. Great story, but that's it.
Conclusion: Cocktail Soft quite often present provocative settings, but the story each time dominated. The mids of the game may be repetitive with the same locations visited over and over for clues, but overall the tempo is good, probably thanks to good systems - there are just three commonly used icons - look, think, talk and quite seldom there is an option of what to look at or think/talk about. Usually command is applied to the whole screen - that cuts repetition in half. I also greatly appreciated that the game is totally serious without stupid jokes. A quality fantasy work with some really memorable moments and great charm.